Getting abstract: A writing exercise

It’s funny how sometimes, in the ordinariness of things, one finds an idea worth writing about. We’ve had a couple of birthdays in the family last month and I was contemplating how exactly I’m going to deal with all the ice cream and cakes and all those food that are readily available and always on sight and that my creative mind might regret indulging in. So as per usual, I read more on self-control and found a perfect (in theory) aspiring-writer-solution.

According to some study, using our head is effective when trying to avoid to do something. If you’ve read Harry Potter and remember the Riddikulus charm or the spell to banish a boggart (taught by Professor Remus Lupin),  it’s a bit like that because it requires a strong mind and concentration in imagining the boggart as a figure of fun, like Snape turning into Neville Longbottom’s grandmother. But instead of imagining this funny figure, the study says that we should imagine the object to be avoided, whether food or activity like spending money or watching TV, as an abstract. 

To illustrate, the following are the abstracts I came up with in describing a birthday cake I wanted to avoid:

  • happiness stealer
  • the sin I will regret
  • symbol of excess
  • bittersweet endings
  • source of loathing
  • mischief not-managed (it’s so obvious how I miss Harry Potter)
  • superficial satisfaction
  • here comes the temptation
  • senseless indulgence
  • road to sorrow
  • path to unhappiness
  • descending to the dark
  • losing my freedom
  • going to the South
  • soul crusher

Who would have thought that a cake could produce such dramatic descriptions when reduced into an abstract? So anyone who feels blocked for ideas or words can choose one concrete object or activity they love or hate at the moment and use their imaginations to come up with the most poetic of abstracts. So that you will not forget this simple but creative exercise, let me leave you this favorite quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:


eleanor quote.png





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